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Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit? 244

DeviceGuru writes "Although IE remains the one of the top browsers on desktops, it's being trounced on tablets and smartphones by browsers based on WebKit, including Safari, the Android Browser, and Google Chrome. Faced with this uphill battle on handheld mobile devices, Microsoft MVP Bill Reiss has suggested that it might be time for Microsoft to throw in the towel on Trident and switch to WebKit (though Reiss later decided he was wrong). But although there are lots of points in favor of doing so, there are also some good reasons not to, including security and a need for healthy competition to avoid having mobile developers begin to target WebKit rather than standards."
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Should Microsoft Switch To WebKit?

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  • by danhuby ( 759002 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:39AM (#42567145) Homepage

    As a web application developer, this would certainly make my life much easier. I'd estimate that implementing work-arounds for IE can add 30 to 50% on to the initial HTML/CSS build, and IE specific issues add a fair amount of to ongoing support costs. This is for versions = IE8, I'm not sure if IE9 / 10 are better.

  • by gigaherz ( 2653757 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:48AM (#42567207)
    IE9 is mostly standards-compliant, and IE10 is better. The days of IE-specific hacks are in the past (or in people stuck with supporting XP clients). If you stick to the supported versions of the browsers (that means Firefox 10 long-term + the newest release Firefox, the latest chrome, IE9 and IE10), you only have very minor differences between browsers, at least when it comes to the standardized feature set. Now if you want to use experimental features, you have to start messing with prefixed identifiers and different implementations, but that would be completely your problem, then, not IE's fault.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:49AM (#42567213)

    Just about every web developer who uses OS X, which unfortunately is most of them. "Cross browser" to them means it works in Safari and Chrome, and to hell with anyone using Firefox, IE, Opera, or some other browser.

  • Not possible (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:01AM (#42567289)

    Trident (or MSHTML) is built on COM+ like everything else in Windows. Bundled with it comes numerous COM interfaces, maybe 100+ in total. Interfaces that are used by the OS all over the place and also by a lot of 3rd party software. To integrate WebKit into Windows would require making it compatible with all those COM interfaces and that is simply not worth the amount of work required.

    Here they are, laid out for all to see...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:09AM (#42567347)

    Google for one, which was the reason for the GMaps on Windows Phone brouhaha a few days ago.

  • by luke923 ( 778953 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:20AM (#42567437) Journal

    Wrong! As a professional web developer who both uses OS X and works alongside other developers who use OS X, I know first hand a large number develop against Firefox before testing in Webkit. I also know a handful who develop against Opera before testing against any other browser; however, most of the decisions to not target Opera stems from management decisions based on analytics. Still these same management types still tell us to target Firefox and IE going back to IE7.

    As far as using Webkit extensions, if any developer uses any Webkit extension it's because: a) they target mobile and the Webkit extensions render faster that any W3C/JQuery/Javascript implementation equivalent, or b) they're prototyping a new browser engine feature knowing full well that it won't be cross-browser compatible. That said, the problem in the past that many had with IE non-compliance had more to do with IE's reliance on ActiveX controls in order to implement new features which not only locked you into the browser, but also locked you into a particular OS. And, since Webkit has no OS constraint along with performance improvements attached to Webkit extensions, no one is -- to use the parlance -- kicking over bins over the purported standards non-compliance coming from Webkit.

    Then again, the whole purpose of vendor extensions is for the community to experiment with new features before they become part of the W3C standard. Also, it's important to note that not only does Webkit have its extensions, but Firefox (with -moz-), Opera (with -o-), and even the newest versions of IE (with -ms-) have their own extensions for the purpose of introducing new features out into the wild. And, it seems very few have any problem with this setup.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer